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Book Review: His Name is Joe by Mimi Lou Martin and Chloe Mathis

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I was introduced to this adorable children’s book in early 2018 and liked the premise enough to add it to my TBR. A young boy befriends another kid who happens to be wheelchair-bound. Knowing how awkward life can be for a third grader, especially while playing dodge ball in gym class, I was curious to give this one a shot. His Name Is Joe by Mimi Lou Martin explores the impacts of a school children learning how to put themselves out there, find friends, develop confidence and teach others small life lessons. While the book is relatively short at 24 pages, it’s filled with wonderful drawings and a great moral lesson. To top it off, the book is co-written by the author’s young children… even including multiple sketches (really fantastic for their age and contribution to the book) and artwork by the whole family. It’s a very cute story, and I think it would be a great addition to all libraries and a family’s reading shelves. I’d recommend it for being fun, inspirational, rewarding and confidence-building. Kudos to this wonderful family and the adorable book they’ve built together. The world needs more people like this!

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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Book Review: Apple Turnover Murder by Joanne Fluke

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I’m a committed Joanne Fluke & Hannah Swensen fan. I love the cozy mystery and these novels just have such a calming and positive effect on me. I’m giving 3.5 stars to Apple Turnover Murder, the 13th in this series. It was good and hit all the right spots, but left room for growth and more complexity. With 20+ books in the series, I can’t give them all a 5, and even a 4 is sometimes too high. It doesn’t mean I don’t adore them. I just think it wasn’t one of the top ones in the series. I like re-visiting all the characters and seeing the wonderful relationships between Hannah, her sisters, and her mothers. And I was even excited that there’s quite an interesting turn-of-events in Hannah’s relationships with her two suitors, Mike and Norman. Perhaps it’s finally moving in the right direction. That said… not enough time was spent exploring the possible culprits or the depth of the victim who was murdered. I think there was more history to be told… I’ve already got books 14 and 15 from the series in my queue, and I was awarded the most current (22?) on NetGalley, so I have to catch up soon!

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: The Shadow Girl by Misty Mount

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Today you’re in for an extra treat as not only do I have a book review, but I’m part of a fantastic blog tour to support this wonderful writer. To top it off, Misty Mount is also today’s featured Author Alert! To see the companion post to this one, check out her Author Alert or continue below to learn more about the various stops on the blog tour and read my 5-star review of The Shadow Girl.

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*** BOOK REVIEW ***

Why This Book

The concept of a shadow has always been a fascinating subject, and when I saw it in the title of a book, I wanted to learn more. I chatted with the author on Goodreads a few times about her life as a writer, quickly finding myself even more intrigued. I got a copy of the book and then saw she was having a blog tour – by the virtue of luck, I got myself included as part of the team (which I’m incredibly grateful for) and dove head first into reading the book. And I’m so glad I did… what a strong and solid young adult, mystery, and coming-of-age novel to spend a few days with!

Approach & Style

I read this ~300-page novel in early January via Kindle Reader on my iPad. It contains twenty-eight chapters and took about six hours to read over three days. The story is told with a first-person point-of-view and a perspective focusing on the main character, Zylia, a 13-year-old girl who feels like no one can see her. There’s a fine line in the story that will make you wonder if there are any magical elements going on in the background, but it truly makes for a breathtaking transformation as you live through everything Zylia experiences.

Key Thoughts

The story is simple, but it is captivating. It’s a psychological character study, and Mount has done a tremendously wonderful job to keep us interested with only small, simple, and ordinary events happening to her family. Kudos for making something truly introspective feel so warm and other worldly as the same time.

Mount completely captured the life of a 13-year-old girl (not that I would truly know what that is, but that it’s definitely what I imagined it to be). Readers see everything from her point of view in a way that makes you feel like part of the action. Whenever I wanted to be angry with Zylia’s siblings or parents, they do something to re-balance the equation, so I adore them again. The family dynamics in this book are extraordinary.

The tone is perfectly set. It is somewhat ominous, but not in a dark way. It’s written with a light touch that makes you keep thinking… what’s gonna happen here? I need to know, and I hope she’s gonna be okay. Don’t hurt my Zylia! Since this is spoiler-free, I will not tell you what happens… you have to go read it for yourself. Just trust me!

One of the strongest areas is Mount’s use of language, narrative, and dialogue to tell the story. The words she’s chosen make you think deeply. The book gives you an understanding of the questions we all ask ourselves at different ages, and what we choose to see or not see when we interpret other people’s actions.

I definitely see Zylia as becoming a beloved character by readers: 95% adored and maybe 5% frustrated when she slinks too far into the “no one sees me” depths which is completely the way a young teenager would feel — it’s absolutely necessary to draw the emotions out us, so it belonged. Zylia reminds me a lot of Leisl from The Book Thief! All the different things she encounters really show a day in the life of a young girl learning how to find her voice, which will absolutely pull readers in, and allow them to compare situations to their own lives or worry whether they’ve done the same things to others… exactly what a great book is supposed to do!

Summary

This is a book you want to take a chance on, especially if you’re a young adult reader or love when books take you on a psychological journey.

***

SG Digital CoverGenre: YA/ Fantasy/ Coming of Age

Publication Date: December 28, 2017

Synopsis:

Blackness. Nothingness. It was in the shape of a giant, hazy shadow, enveloping me, swallowing me, and digesting me into the unknown. It was my biggest fear and my ultimate fate.

Shy, thirteen-year-old Zylia has always known she was different. Most teenagers feel unnoticed and unseen, but for Zylia, it’s something much worse. She’s disappearing from this world and doesn’t know how to stop it. At times, she’s not sure she wants to. Until she stumbles across a family mystery surrounding the disappearance of her great-aunt Angelica years earlier. During her quest to unravel the mystery, Zylia discovers she’s able to cross the boundary and enter the “in between” world. Now, it’s up to Zylia to save herself before she’s trapped “in between” forever.

You know you want too… click here to add this amazing book to Goodreads

Now Available for Sale

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How about reading a brief excerpt to get you even more interested?

I did my best to fight and claw my way back to the life I once knew, but panic had taken over and colors were swirling and fading all around me. It was all turning into a great cloud of blackness, just like the one I had seen in my dream. The looming cloud of nothingness I had feared for so long was finally grabbing me, wiping my world dark and blank.

The darkness was thick and intense, an inky void that stretched to eternity in every direction. Eventually my panic burnt itself out and I simply stayed there in the dark, feeling as if someone had drained my adrenal glands. I was no longer responding to the dark with fear, but acceptance. In fact, curiosity was beginning to take over.

The longer I let myself stare into it, the less dark it appeared. After some time, I realized that it was all different shades of murky black and foggy gray overlapping and undulating, just out of focus. I blinked mentally and suddenly she was there, standing above me with concern etched in sooty-colored lines on her monochromatic face.”

About the Author

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Misty Mount has written since age five and was first published at fourteen. By day she’s a caregiver, wife, and mother to a young son but during the quiet hours of night she becomes a novelist. She resides in Wichita, Kansas.

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If you want to take a chance on winning a copy, there’s an amazing giveaway where 1 print* and 2 digital copies of The Shadow Girl by Misty Mount are available:

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*Print copy is available to North American residents only.

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This amazing Blog Tour was organized by:

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Origin by Dan Brown

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When Origin, the fifth in the Robert Langdon series by Dan Brown, was published last Fall, I couldn’t wait to read it. Unfortunately, I had several ARCS, giveaways, and commitments that forced me to hold off until just this week to read it – nearly 5 months of misery. I cried when my fellow readers published reviews and I couldn’t look at them. I kicked things when the book mocked me on the shelf. Then my wonderful blogger friends voted for this as the book they wanted me to read in February on my Book Bucket List! So I survived and made it my priority this week… in the end, it was a good read and I will always enjoy Brown’s style, plots and characters. I’m giving this one 3.5 out of 5 stars and will rate either a 3 or 4 on each of the book sites depending on their ratings meanings.

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The story is quite intriguing, as always. A man holds a press conference to reveal that he has found the answers we’ve all been searching for: (1) Where did we come from, and (2) Where are we going? It kicks off a series of events including his murder, the ire of many established world religions and the envy of historians and cultural icons. Langdon pairs up with the future Queen of Spain who runs the museum where the murder occurs, then they travel the country to discover all the answers.

The scenery, setting, and backgrounds are marvelous. Brown is highly adept at giving readers exactly as much as they need to picture the story without coloring it in too much… a few blurry edges for personal imagination. The sheer intensity of the research he must have done in the worlds of science, religious, museums, Spain and art is admirable. The volume of characters, the who is good versus who is evil balance, the red herrings, the small and large steps during the chases… all of these facts and the enveloped tone completely make this a 5 star read from those perspectives.

But then I started comparing it to his previous novels, to other works in this sub-genre and to his overall approach in telling the story. It fell short for me. There weren’t enough side stories. The characters were flatter than usual. I would love to have seen a bigger story about the Spanish royalty’s influence and history (other than Franco) in regard to science, evolution and romance. There were no scenes except a memory between the prince and his future consort, so I didn’t root for them. Langdon almost felt like a secondary character in the book. And the various sects of religious and military groups involved in the story seemed too fluid and/or disorganized in terms of the bigger picture. It made the story less interesting as I couldn’t really latch onto any specific character. Even Langdon had a minimal connection to the man who was murdered… despite being professor and student, we saw very little memories of a bond between them. Throw in a few conversations at a pub bonding over a theory, or an argument over the church, something to connect them for us in the present.

That said, I do enjoy these types of novels and there was enough to keep my interest. It just wasn’t a consistent page-turner throughout the whole book. I’ll still read the next one. And I’ll always be in awe of the author’s intelligence, world knowledge and style.

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

365 Challenge: Day 332 – Rumours

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Rumours: title of a book written by a good friend currently in need of a few beta readers

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As an author, I totally know how important it is to find a solid group of beta readers who can provide feedback on your work. I’ve been lucky enough to connect with a few in the last year, and one of them is Claire, blogger extraordinaire… but Claire is also a writer and published author. She completed a novel last year that I beta read a few times (she packs a lot of emotion, lust and power into her work), and it’s now with an editor and being shopped through various literary agencies and publishers. She’s completed a draft of a second novel that is a sorta spin-off of the first in the use of a few common characters. I haven’t read it yet because I’ve been focused on my own work, but I plan to read it sometime in the next 2 to 5 weeks. Claire mentioned that she was looking to add a few more folks to the early-read team. I thought it might be fun to beta read it at the same time as someone else I chat with on the blog… so that’s the point of today’s post. Rumour has it she’s got another winner… and I like spelling this the British way! I feel like sharing (with her permission of course) this next beta read… who’s interested?  Details below… feel free to private message me if you wanna know more about how this process works. Or you can message Claire directly through the site link below. We can line up our schedules and partner on providing feedback and input. Who’s with us?

*** Message from Claire @ BrizzleLass Books, Author ***

I have finished draft one and am just tidying a few bits and pieces up so that the book is ready to be read. It will be sent out by Friday 16 February at the latest and I would like responses by 30 March giving 6 weeks to complete the readthrough and feedback.

As this is the first draft I’m not looking for detailed analysis of grammatical issues. This is about the story and characters. I need to know:

  • Does the story flow?
  • Are there areas where it feels clunky? That something is missing? That something within the story doesn’t make sense? Etc
  • Are the characters believable?
  • What emotions do the characters pull from you? You don’t have to like them but they should affect you
  • Does the dialogue work? Is there too much, not enough, is it in the right places? And does it work with the narrative?

Hopefully this gives you an idea what I am looking for. So a bit about Rumours.

It is an Adult Contemporary Romance…there are some hot steamy sex scenes, so please don’t take this gig if this is something that may offend you!

This Bio is a rough draft and hasn’t been finalised in any way but I wanted to give you a taste of what the book is about…

Mark is a professional cellist, he’s also a semi-professional player. He has never settled with any girl for any length of time, but since his best friend found the love of his life, he’s realised there is something missing in his life. Wedding Photographer, Blair had her heart ripped from her chest just weeks before her wedding when she found out her fiancé hadn’t just cheated on her but had a family with the other woman. She has avoided relationships for the years since, terrified of losing her heart and feeling that betrayal again. When the two are introduced by a mutual friend sparks fly, but can two people with such broken pasts build any kind of future together?

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/WGS. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Book Review: Savannah Sleuth by Alan Chaput

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Why This Book 
I belong to a cozy mystery reader group that offers ARCs of upcoming books through a giveaway contest. I won Alan Chaput‘s book, Savannah Sleuth, the first in his Vigilantes for Justice series from Falcon Press, published in early 2018.

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Approach & Style 
I read the paperback version of this 271-page novel in 4 hours over 3 days. It is told with a third-person point-of-view and via a perspective focused primarily on the main character, Patricia (Patsy); however, ~20% of the chapters focus on other characters so that readers know what’s going on behind the scenes even though Patsy is unaware what has happened.

Plot, Characters & Setting 
The novel takes place in Savannah, Georgia with a trip to Paris, France for a few chapters. It focuses on super-rich Patricia (Patsy) Falcon, her mother, her husband their daughter, friends and enemies. Patsy’s mother dies under mysterious circumstances, prompting Patsy and her friends to search for the killer… but here’s where this story takes a different arc. Her husband is part of a coalition to protect Savannah, so he’s secretly investigating the death as well but she doesn’t know it. As Patsy and her friends begin finding leads, more people keep dying or having accidents. Throw in some family issues with their daughter, side-stories involving the church, a homeless man who is searching for a parent, philanthropic efforts among the different friends in Patsy’s group, affairs, and a very high-tech security detail… and you’ve got a lot of things to try and connect across the chapters.

Key Thoughts 
Savannah as a backdrop is a wonderful setting. I’ve not been to the city but will be going later this year at the end of summer. I can’t wait to see how well reality compares to the descriptions in this novel. It was highly engrossing, completely beautiful, and impressive in terms of how well integrated into the story. I felt like I was there while reading the book.

The vigilante concept is quite intriguing when you consider the vigilantes are the super-rich who run the city. Between the gun-toting society ladies, the friendly welcome and assistance of homeless, and openness about how they need to murder bad people in order to protect the town, I found myself constantly surprised at what people said and did.

A few parts made me turn my head and scratch the back of my scalp… only because it just didn’t seem like a specific action could really happen the way it did, but it felt like maybe that was the point of the story. Once I just let my concerns go, falling into the complexity and depth of the story, I loved it. I felt the same way about the ending in terms of leaving too many things unsolved; however, it’s clear those will be addressed in book two. Had some of these been a bit stronger or more fleshed out, I would have given this a cozy mystery a 5-star rating.

Chaput has a great platform and baseline to tell many stories in this series. The characters are rich with interesting personalities; I often couldn’t tell who to trust and who to fear… it’s a lot of grey and very little black and white. That was one of my favorite parts.

Summary 
I’m very excited about this new mystery series. It’s a solid 4+ star rating and may have been higher if a few loose threads were tied together before the end. It’s a little darker than a typical cozy, but in a good way. I like how there’s a lot going on in the stories, especially the side plots and secondary characters. I will definitely be reading the next one which is coming out very soon.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Blood Sister by Kenna McKinnon

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Why This Book 
I’d heard a few good things about Blood Sister by author Kenna McKinnon from some fellow readers and decided to take a chance on it. It was published in 2015 by Creativia and has a very unique set of characters and multiple voices (you’ll get this joke later on)… let’s get on to the review.

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Plot, Characters & Setting 
Set in contemporary Canada, this quirky novel tells the story of two vicious murders of the town mayor and doctor in Serendipity. While the police lead the investigation, they’ve called in a consultant private-eye who has a unique relationship with the detectives working on the case. She’s a schizophrenic who still hears voices and is currently on a stress leave while she re-adjusts to new medication levels. As if that’s not enough of a reason to draw you in, Annie is married to another interesting fellow, Samir, a Sudanese man who has a few issues of his own to deal with, but they may just be trying to pull the wool over their guardian’s eyes… as they’re barely in their early 20s and not quite ready to be on their own based on a few crimes they too committed in the past. Add in a sexy new detective named Mark Snow who just happens to have the same initials as the possible murderer and you’ve got yourself quite a corker to figure out!

Approach & Style 
I read this 294-page mystery and suspense novel over ~4 hours on my iPad via Kindle Reader. It’s broken into ~90 chapters which means each one is relatively short around 3 to 4 pages. While it could be difficult to tell who’s talking, given all the personalities sometimes taking control of Annie, author McKinnon has kindly italicized those moments so readers are quick to follow along. The story is told in third-person POV with a perspective focusing on the main character, Annie, and her adventures not only in solving the crime, but deciding how to handle her relationship with Samir and feelings for Mark.

Key Thoughts 
Let’s focus on the mystery first. Two dead people always make a story more complicated. Was it a single murderer, a serial killer with more victims in his/her plan, or just two very unrelated incidents. Lots of red herrings and different motives, both real and faked, help move this plot along nicely.

You’ll either love or hate the characters. They are portrayed quite well, so it’ll really come down to your ability to see through the quirks and nuances versus the games they seem to be playing with each other and within poor Annie’s mind. I’m in awe of how the author kept this all in line!

There are a lot of side-stories going on which help keep readers interested in all the action and characters. Between birds and cats, foreigners and natives, old historic beliefs and medical approaches, the novel seems to have a bit of everything. It’s a lot to keep track of, but imagine what that’s like for Annie who has to try to assemble all the clues while her schizophrenia idles up and down depending on her adjustment to the medicine.

Throw in a bit of romance, some Canadian humor, and the potential for some fun and silliness, you’ve got yourself quite a unique read. If you’re looking for something different and logical in its own right, this would be a great choice to push your reading comforts. The best part is following Annie’s mind and voice throughout the story. She’s got a lot of charm and intelligence, and you never quite know what she might say out loud unintentionally. I know a few people like that!

Summary 
This was a unique book and I don’t think I expected it to be what it turned out to be — but that’s certainly not a bad thing either! It has all the drama, mystery and suspense you’d expect in this type of novel, but it gives you a very different setting and tone as part of the ride. I like when books throw me for a loop, especially when you need to re-orient how you think in order to align your reading style. Kudos to the author for finding great formatting, approaches and character descriptions to help make everything pop on the page.

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.